Archive for the ‘ Perspectives ’ Category

Heading West – Kind of…

Horse as Teacher Book 1

Before leaving on my road trip, my colleague and partner in the Horse as Teacher book series, Kathy Pike, had asked if I would stand in for her shamanic teacher in her workshop in June in Carbondale, Colorado. I had agreed, thinking it would be on my way back home. However, when I found out my brother and his band, Snydley Whiplash, were having a 25th anniversary reunion for the 4th of July, I wanted to be there for the performance. I also wanted to go back to Arkansas to meet with more of the women and see if the land was truly drawing me to be there.

In the end, I decided to make a dash to Colorado without stopping along the way for sightseeing. After teaching at the workshop, I would see where the road led me. At that point, I would either go back to South Dakota or head west from there.

Kathy’s workshop was the 3rd of 4 held over a year’s time for her apprenticeship program, teaching students to become Equine Facilitated Learning and Coaching practitioners and facilitators. This week-long session was focused on the internal work the participants needed to do to become a practitioner. Kathy has a shamanic colleague who had been there the first two sessions, but couldn’t teach in this one.

I arrived the two days before the start to help Kathy prepare. We went to pick up her assistant Reggie from the airport the night I arrived. Reggie is a therapist who decided to follow her path of working with horses and after living 60+ years in New York, moved to Texas just before meeting Kathy and starting to work as her assistant. Holding space for all of the horses, participants, and other people involved is a big effort. We were also all three staying in Kathy’s small casita, so being able to work well together was critical. The three of us had a great time, balancing each other throughout the week.

Coaching With Horses Workshop Ranch

The next morning we drove the 30 miles to the ranch where the workshop was being held. The drive out was spectacular, taking us into a long, gradually narrowing valley, the road winding along a tree-lined river. The pastures were filled with horses as we weaved our way to the far end of the valley. The ranch sat below a beautiful view of a show-capped mountain, the water flowing past dandelion-filled pastures, the horses grazing contentedly in the bright sun. This was a little piece of heaven.

The first three days of the week would be an experiential workshop. In that portion, there would be one person who was not part of the year-long program. The rest would finish the week, but Blaine was only there for the first session. Kathy had explained on the way that he was the husband of a woman who would be taking the program the next year, and he was there to experience some of what Tracy would explore. She had also explained that he was a minister and wasn’t sure how the Shamanic piece of the workshop would be for him.

That question was answered immediately when we met. It was an instant, deep connection. As we walked to the stand of trees by the small waterfall from the pond to the creek that I had chosen for our teaching, he started peppering me with questions. Blaine is a handsome, curious man with a deep strength and gentleness that is perfectly suited for the work he does. I definitely felt that we had had many conversations in many lifetimes.

Setting of Shamanic Teaching

The other participants were also very curious and connected to the shamanic teachings I shared with them. I taught them to journey to find their power animals and a spirit guide for the work they would be doing during the next few days. Then they journeyed to those spirits to find out what they needed to change or remove from their path in order to move forward. I also explained the medicine wheel, making sacred space, and creating rituals and daily practices, no matter how that looks for each person. There seemed to be a number of breakthroughs in the teaching session, and much more as the week progressed.

The next day, I took the other half of the group to the teaching space. Again, there were profound learnings that they shared with me. The setting, the subject, and the participants, as well as the facilitators made the week a very powerful grounding experience. But most of all were the horses. They are most amazing beings.

As events unfolded after returning to South Dakota, I began to see what had compelled me to go home. It didn’t take long.

My brother Tony and his wife Sandi and their children, Danielle, Kelsey, and Andrew, had moved from the farmhouse where I had grown up into my parent’s house in town a few months earlier. I had originally planned to stay at the farm, since I would have my own space and time to roam and reminisce. However, no matter how much you want to go back to what you have known, it’s never the same. The moment I walked in the house, I knew it wasn’t going to be what I had envisioned.

Instead, Tony set up his fifth-wheel trailer in front of the house in town and I had my own space to set up my office and be close but not in their way. Then the winter storms that had followed me across country came. For a couple of weeks it alternated between threats of snow and rain. Mind you, this was in May! South Dakota had been drenched all spring, and it continued. I came to find out that was true across all of the western states when I finally turned my car west toward home. However, that was a ways down the road, literally and figuratively.

My niece Kelsey was graduating from high school so I jumped in to help prepare for the celebration and events involved in that rite of passage. I also caught up with work, editing several projects. The days were full.

Then one day as I was working, my brother knocked on the door and asked if I wanted to talk with his banker. Kevin was there for his annual visit with Tony about the farm loans from his bank. Apparently, the bankers there go to the farmer. As it happens, Kevin was also my family business’s banker and Tony thought it would be good for me to meet him in person.

As we talked, Tony said that he had talked with Kevin about the possibility of selling the family land. This was huge news, as Tony farmed the land, and by being willing to sell it, he was in effect saying he was ready to walk away from the only thing he had ever done.

Kevin suggested that now was the best time in terms of land values. The recession hadn’t affected the prices of farm land and they were at their highest. He said that the market was still going up, but that he wasn’t sure how long that would last. There was also the consideration that capital gains taxes would be going up considerably at the end of the year.

After Kevin left, I talked with Tony and we decided to bring it to the family call we held every other week. When my siblings heard about our conversation, it was decided that since I was already there, the others would travel home for Memorial Day weekend and we would have our annual retreat to decide if we would actually sell the land and how that would look if we did. Because of the sensitive nature, we were not to tell anyone what our purpose was. Fortunately, we have had annual meetings before, so our many cousins and relatives weren’t curious.

Not only could I not write about this part of my trip due to the confidentiality, my energy was suddenly focused on the emotional impact on my family of selling the family land. I knew then why I was meant to be there. My days were filled with phone calls between siblings and visits to the county courthouse to get information. What I realized was just how much I didn’t know about the land I had grown up on. A whole new world was revealed. And because Tony and I had always been close, I was able to spend quality time with him talking about the decision and how that would impact him.

During this time, I realized how much my shamanic work and my coaching really helped see perspectives that did not come easily to everyone. We are very fortunate. My siblings all get along very well. We communicate well and each of us brings our individual talents to the family business.

Of my seven siblings, several were ready to sell, but two were not. While Tony was no longer eager to farm, he still wanted to find a way to maintain some land for his horses. Carol also wanted to build a hunting lodge, but didn’t have the money reserves to purchase any of the land on her own. After many phone calls, I suggested that she and Tony buy back some of the land after we had sold the rest. We were almost certain that one or more of our cousins would be highly interested in purchasing the land. I was sure that they would agree to that type of swap.

Once that question was answered, the rest of the pieces started to fall into place. When we met at the retreat, we wrote down our intentions and our objectives for the weekend. In the end, all of them were met with love, joy, and excitement. We decided to sell the land. We called our cousin Max and asked him if he was interested. He was. He made a generous offer and we accepted. We are now in the midst of finalizing the deal. Max offered some of the land to his brothers and another cousin, and by the end of the year, it will have transferred hands to them.

Because money is energy, and this opened up a new flow of that energy to everyone, several of us experienced a release of things that have been blocked for years. Houses sold, jobs changed for the better, and for me, suddenly I had more work than I could keep up with. I’ve experienced how not having money can affect your life. The irony is that even though the deal isn’t complete, the energy has shifted. This was a huge realization for me and has affected me in a multitude of ways. Although I didn’t have money in the bank, I FELT prosperous. It was coming from within and the law of attraction shifted into high gear.

Falling In Love With the Land

After Kelsey’s graduation and before Memorial Day, I squeezed in a trip to Arkansas to visit my good friend Timido. She had been trying for years to get me to come and visit her. In college, I had sold books door-to-door in Memphis, Tennessee and had spent quite a bit of that time in eastern Arkansas. I could remember no reason for me to be excited about visiting the state again.

However, I had never been to the northwestern part of the state, Fayetteville to be specific. What a surprise!

Thirty years ago, a friend of Timido’s had purchased 300 acres on the side of a mountain in the Ozarks. She had created a women’s community, putting the land in a trust. Timido was a member of the community, and envisioned her friends from the NW would join her someday. I was one of many targets.

I was smitten with the land. It is enchanting, peaceful, and beautiful. I awoke every morning and hiked for miles, exploring the rough roads and trails. I am one of those fortunate people who aren’t affected by bugs, and so despite walking in lush meadows and through forests, the chiggers and ticks stayed away. I was the envy of the other women.

As I prepared to leave to go back to Omaha on my way to South Dakota, I felt a deep longing to stay there in the beauty of the land. It was the first time I had felt that way about a place other than the NW in a very long time. Timido suggested that I consider becoming a member of the landholder’s group. She had arranged for me to meet as many women on the land as possible, but because several were gone, I would have to return if I were going to apply. One of the requirements of becoming a member is to have approval from all of the other members. I told her I would think about it.

On one of my many hikes around the land, I had seen an old shack sitting on a ledge above the road. Exploring what was left of the buildings, I looked out from the rickety deck. The trees had grown up in front of where I stood, but I could see that it was a stunning view. Rolling mountains, a beautiful valley below, and just beyond the road, I saw one of the ponds that had been built on the land. I felt at home and at peace.

On my drive back to Omaha, that piece of land kept calling me. I was so entranced, that I missed my exit and two hours later discovered I had been driving east, not north! That had never happened to me before on my many miles of driving. At first I was very mad at myself. It was already a ten hour drive, and I had just added four hours to it! However, something shifted in me that day. My spirit guides calmed me down, showing me the beauty of what was around me that I wouldn’t have seen if I had not gone the wrong way. They showed me that it was all in my perspective. I could be mad or I could enjoy what I was experiencing. Either way, I was already there and couldn’t change the circumstances. It was my choice to let the lower frequency energy overtake my joy. Or to be in a space of gratitude and self-forgiveness.

I looked around me as I drove through SW Missouri. There were rolling hills, with layers of green, under a beautiful sky with puffy clouds. It was really just about the most idyllic drive I had been on the entire trip. I was taking the back roads, so there was very little traffic. It was extraordinary.

I settled in to drive back to my road when my shamanic mentor, Jan Engels-Smith, called me to ask about some work she needed help with. I have never heard her be frustrated, but, as she said, she was having a hard time being in her joy at that moment. I chuckled, because I had just been in that same space only moments before. I told her what I had just done, and by the time we hung up, we were both laughing. One of Jan’s favorite sayings was “Choose joy in adversity.” Sometimes you just have to be reminded of what you already know.

By the time I reached Nebraska, I had a complete vision of what my house would look like on the land in Arkansas, where each room would be, and even what pictures would adorn the walls. For the next several weeks, I would fall asleep to the image and wake to the dream. I had never experienced anything like it. It felt like I had fallen in love.

I began to look at the possibility of returning to Arkansas to meet all of the women and really decide if that was where I was meant to be. Much of it would depend on how the Memorial Day Weekend shaped up, and if I was still going to be teaching a workshop in Colorado in June.

Arriving in Denver was the demarcation point between Phase 1 of my scenic tour through the National Parks and my gentle glide into my home state of South Dakota and visiting relatives along my path to get there. I feel like I am going through a sort of retrospective, not surprising as my 50th birthday is on the horizon.

Seeing my niece Christina is always great. She is beautiful, inside and out. This was the first time meeting her fiancé, Justin, and I truly enjoyed our conversations and time together.

Justin had to work the next day, and Christina had class in the morning, so instead of going to Rocky Mountain National Park, Christina and decided to go see Body Worlds & The Story of the Heart at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and then go see Hubble at the IMAX theatre in the same building.

Body Worlds & The Story of the Heart had come to Portland, but for some reason, it didn’t appeal to me to see real human bodies that had been stripped literally to the veins and tendons. But a few months ago a friend had mentioned that she had really been amazed with the exhibition. Christina had heard that as well. So we went.

What an amazing creation our body is! Especially the heart, from which everything else expands. If it is true that we create in our imaginations what happens in our experience, then we are amazing creators of an intricate spiritual machine. If that is the case, just think of all that we can create with even more limitless thinking. Seeing each organ, each capillary, the systems that carry us, that move us, that inspire us. It was truly a fascinating exhibit that made me realize how precious and amazing life is.

And to think that the human body is only one of millions of species of beings operating from a heart, with systems that function in perfect unity. That doesn’t include the oceans of water, the clouds in the sky, and the earth that holds it all in its loving embrace. We have really dreamed ourselves a grand place to be, and an amazing way to be in it.

After leaving Body Worlds, we made our way to the IMAX theatre to view Hubble. Astronauts filmed the movie while they made the final attempt to fix the problems with the Hubble telescope so that scientists could continue to view the far edges of the universe, those other worlds that sometimes seem beyond our imagination, but are brought into our view through an incredible combination of knowledge and technology.

We had moved from the inner exploration of the body to the outer exploration of the universe. The parallels are astounding.

As humans, we are made up of billions of cells that create systems that propel us, support us, keep us alive, forever expanding and changing until the end, when we return to the source of light, an infinite nothingness from which we are created anew. The universe is made up of billions of stars, heavenly bodies that form systems, swirling and morphing, changing and expanding until the end, when the universe collapses into the void of darkness, an infinite nothingness from which it will ultimately be born again.

There are no coincidences in this universe. Everything has a reason, a purpose. We are all stars, made of stars, in a universe of stars.

It was a fascinating experience, and a wonderful stay with Christina and Justin. Next up? Omaha and my sister Linda. I may not blog as frequently for the next month or so. I have some projects to catch up on, and I won’t bore you with my visits with relatives unless I have some aha moments to share. See you soon!

Monday, I was able to get in touch with PayPal and they credited my account while they investigate the charges. Lisa hired me for editing work and paid a retainer, so I visited the Dove Creek bank on my way out of town. As always, things seem to work out, even when we can’t imagine that it will.

No matter what happens in life, there is good in everything if we are just willing to look for it. If I hadn’t had financial trouble with PayPal, I wouldn’t have mentioned anything to Lisa, and I wouldn’t have had the learning I received and the breakthroughs I made. It’s all in how I accept what is happening. When the moment presents less than joy, I ask myself, “How can I expand in positive ways from what just happened? When I do that, when I really look at things from a 360-degree view, the perspective gives new insight and direction and joy returns so much more quickly.

This trip has been an enormous help in teaching me to be in the moment. On a road trip, there are so many possible choices. It’s like the picture in M.A.S.H. where there are road signs with mileages pointing in every direction. Go here. Go there. What to choose? The unknown can be scary, or extremely exhilarating – or both.

There have been so many instances where, really, there is nothing I can do but to breathe, wait a few moments, and allow the next moment to see where I will move next. As I stay in that place of acceptance of what is, I feel myself following my inner knowing with more ease and joy.

I have always operated better on the edge. I understand now that the edge is the moment. Taking a leap of faith is balancing where you are at that edge of acceptance with forward movement into the unknown, trusting that the bridge will come to meet me. I don’t have to worry about finding or building it, or try to control how it is accomplished. The support is there; I just need to create the image of it in my mind and it will be there when I need it.

I left Vista Caballo and traveled north through a beautiful series of canyons and mesas, paralleling the Delores River for a long distance, climbing steadily to Grand Junction. Picking up the Interstate, I headed east toward Denver to visit my niece Christina and her fiancé, Justin for two days.

A lot has happened in the past few days, despite my utter exhaustion. After weeks of moving and preparing for the trip, I hit the mental and physical wall after I reached my cousins Thoroughbred Ranch, in Elk Grove, CA.

But I get ahead of myself. Wednesday after several day’s delay, I hit I-5 south, not sure if I should just head down to June and Joe’s (my cousins) directly, or still go with my original plan to see the Redwoods. As I neared Corvallis, where I had lived for nearly 20 years, I was pulled to go to the coast via Waldport.

What I hadn’t thought about was that I would literally be driving past all of my former residences. It was as if I were shedding old energy, glimpsing familiar places that were now foreign, part of my memory, but no longer part of my life. The message I got was that in all cases, life moves on. And it’s not where you are that holds the key to life’s wonders; it’s how you look at where you are.

The last day of the move, as I was closing the door on the Raven Lodge for the last time, one of my spirit guides tapped me on the shoulder and said, “If you think this is good, wait til you see what’s next!” I thought about all the places I had lived and realized that every time, I was able to land in something better than the last, and all were beautiful. And so I left with a new perspective on the what might lie ahead.

The drive down the coast was beautiful, with sun pouring down on the dazzling water. There was a stiff breeze behind me, and just south of Florence, dark clouds appeared on the horizon. By Brookings, it was raining. By Crescent City, California, just outside the Redwoods, it was pouring. I found a hotel and after digging through my things to find what I needed, I set up camp for the evening.

I had taken a brief detour off 101 to drive through the edge of Jedediah Smith National Park as I approached Crescent City. After winding through increasingly dense forest, I was rewarded with a grove of the stately ancient ones. I’ve seen them before, but they always take my breath away when I see them again.

The trees are calling to me. I realized that on my drive, even before I came to these giants. They have a message for me that I am to discover on this journey. It’s time to find out what they have to say.

To let you all know, I’m having some trouble getting my videos from my Droid to my Mac. So, I’m sorry I don’t have anything yet for you. Soon, very soon :-) .